Need money? Avoid credit card advances
Cash advances can be great in a pinch, but your credit may feel the pain.
You can access credit-card cash advances through ATMs or convenience checks, which are issued by your credit-card company. Most times, you use advances when you don't have enough cash and paying by credit isn't an option.
But because the service is meant to be used when you can pay back the money quickly, repeatedly taking cash advances can cost you big in both money and credit score.
Most cash advances carry upfront fees of 2 percent to 4 percent of the amount advanced. In addition, the interest charges - which may be more than a credit card's regular interest rate of 18 percent or so - start accumulating as soon as the ATM or cashier has deposited the cash in your hand. Some lenders may even require you to pay off your balance for other purchases before you can begin paying off the higher-interest balance for cash advances.
Using cash advances also has the potential to hurt your credit score, says Ryan Sjoblad, public relations manager for Fair Isaac Corp., the company that developed software to assess a borrower's credit risk.
Credit scores rate your financial behavior on a scale of 300 to 800 (higher is better). The best interest rates are typically given to customers with scores of 700 or more.
Your credit score is hurt when you use most of your available credit. Cash advances are figured into the balance, says Sjoblad, so taking advances can lower your score until you pay back the money.
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